Farm *A* Syst for Michigan Producers (FAS107)

Some farm practices practices present a significant hazard to drinking water supplies, while others present none.


In 2011, the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) was codified in law as set forth in P.A. 451, Part 87, of the Natural Resources & Environmental Protection Act (NREPA). The Farm◆A◆Syst tool is updated annually to incorporate the current MAEAP Standards for this system. The tool also includes applicable Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs) established under Michigan Right to Farm. The completed A Syst tool and associated plan and practices meet the requirement of a Conservation Plan, as defined in Part 82 of NREPA and referenced in Part 87 of NREPA. This statute also ensures producer confidentiality for any information provided in connection with the development, implementation or verification of a conservation plan or associated practices and is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program is a comprehensive, proactive and voluntary agricultural pollution prevention program. It takes a systems approach to assist producers in evaluating their farms for environmental risks. The four systems are Livestock, Farmstead, Cropping and Forest, Wetlands and Habitat. Farm◆A◆Syst assesses the environmental risks of the Farmstead System. The Michigan Right to Farm Act authorizes the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development to develop and adopt GAAMPs for farms and farm operations in Michigan. These voluntary practices are based on available technology and scientific research to promote sound environmental stewardship. The current Right to Farm GAAMPs are posted on the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Web site:

Producers who complete the Farm◆A◆Syst assessment will be able to determine what management, structural or equipment changes (if any) will be needed for the farmstead to be environmentally assured through MAEAP.

Once the producer develops and implements a Farmstead Improvement Action Plan to address the risks indicated by the Farm◆A◆Syst assessment, he or she can contact MDARD at (517) 284-5609 to request a MAEAP Farmstead System verification process. The owner of a MAEAP verified farmstead will be eligible for incentives and can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that Farmstead System practices are consistent with the identified current Right to Farm GAAMPs. Verified Farmstead Systems are positioned to achieve regulatory compliance with state and federal environmental laws.

What is the Farmstead Assessment System?

The Farmstead Assessment System (Farm◆A◆Syst) is a series of risk questions that will help assess how effectively the farmstead structures, management practices and site conditions protect water resources. The risk questions are grouped in the following sections:

  • Farmstead Improvement Action Plan
    1. Waste Management
    2. Right to Farm
    3. Septic System Management
    4. Farmstead Site/Soil Evaluation
    5. General Livestock Management
    6. Water Well Condition
    7. Livestock Manure Storage
    8. Pesticide Storage and Handling
    9. Livestock Lot Management
    10. Pesticide Handler and Worker Safety
    11. Silage Storage
    12. Fertilizer Storage and Handling
    13. Milking Center Wastewater Treatment
    14. Petroleum Product Storage and Management
    15. Other Environmental Risks in the Farmstead System

How Does Farm◆A◆Syst Work?

1) Select all relevant sections for the farm.

2) Answer the risk questions by selecting the statement that best describes conditions on the farmstead. Indicate the risk level in the column to the right. Skip any questions that don’t apply to the farmstead.

Note: For MAEAP verification, complete the risk questions with a Farm◆A◆Syst trained individual (water stewardship technician, Michigan State University Extension [MSUE] educator, Natural Resources Conservation Service [NRCS] resource conservationist or other MAEAP trained partner).

3) After completing each section of the risk questions, list the practices that present a high risk of contaminating water resources in the Farmstead Improvement Action Plan. The plan is printed inside the front cover of the bulletin. Also include medium-risk practices that do not meet MAEAP verification requirements.

4) In the Farmstead Improvement Action Plan, list: • Alternative practices, structures or equipment that are planned to implement or install that will help reduce risks to water resources. • Sources of technical and financial assistance. • Target dates for accomplishing the changes. • Target date for MAEAP verification of the Farmstead System.

Risk questions that address management practices that are regulated by state or federal law indicate illegal practices with black bold print. The numbered footnotes indicate what regulation(s) is (are) violated.

Risk questions that address management practices that are consistent with a specific GAAMP are identified with blue bold italic print.

The numbered footnotes indicate what regulation(s) is (are) violated (refer to Table 3, page 63).

A Few Final Words

The key to Farm◆A◆Syst is that, once the environmental risks have been identified, implement a plan to reduce the risk(s).

Some of the stewardship practices that will reduce risks may cost very little and take very little time to implement. Other practices or structures may involve additional cost and may not be implemented for a few years. It is important, however, to have a plan to follow.

Once a plan has been developed and changes have been implemented to address the risks on the farmstead, MAEAP Farmstead System verification can be requested.

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